Dear Parents, During the rush of a busy morning, packing a safe lunch for your child can be easily forgotten. Children are more likely than healthy adults to be victims of foodborne illness. Harmful bacteria rapidly grows and multiplies between temperatures of 40:F and 140:F. Your child’s health is important. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use the following tips to “Pack Food Safety with Your Child’s School Lunch”.
To Start, Pack Smart!
You have lots of choices for packing lunches. Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes or bags are best for
keeping food cold, but metal or plastic lunch boxes and paper bags can also be used.
If using paper lunch bags, create layers by double bagging to insulate the food.
Pack only the amount of food that will be eaten at lunch to avoid having leftovers.
Cross-contamination can occur by reusing packaging materials such as: paper or plastic
bags, food wraps and aluminum foil. At lunchtime, have your child discard all used food
packaging and bags; they could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness. Also, discard
perishable leftovers unless they can be safely chilled immediately after lunch and when they are brought home.
Keep Hot Foods Hot
If your child is taking hot soup, stew or chili for lunch, use an insulated container. Parents should fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty it, and then put the piping hot food in the container. Keep the container closed until lunchtime so the food stays hot. Between uses wash the container and rinse it with boiling water.
Keep Cold Foods Cold
Prepare the food the night before and store it in the refrigerator or freezer and pack the lunch in the
morning. Keep foods cold by using an ice pack or by freezing a juice box or sandwich. For
best quality, do not freeze sandwiches containing mayonnaise, lettuce, or tomatoes. Add these right
before eating. Frozen juice boxes and sandwiches will be thawed by lunch.
Bacteria (germs), viruses and parasites are everywhere in the environment! They are
organisms that you cannot see, smell, or taste. In fact, they can contaminate food and cause life-threatening illness. Foodborne illness (food poisoning) can strike anyone,
especially young children, pregnant women (it endangers their unborn babies too), older adults, and persons with weakened immune systems.
Before freezing a sandwich, spread a thin layer of butter or margarine on the bread to keep the bread
from getting soggy, then put the sandwich in a plastic freezer bag. Frozen sandwiches can keep for three to four weeks.
The following foods should be kept cold:
Meat, fish, poultry, bologna, luncheon meat and
Cooked vegetables and
Dressing and gravy
Lunch combinations that include luncheon meats
with crackers, cheese and condiments
Yogurt and hard cheese
Raw fruits and vegetables
The following foods can be kept
safely at room temperature until
Peanut butter `
Butter or margarine
Pickles, mustard, and ketchup
Dried meats, including beef
jerky and pepperoni
The following foods freeze well:
Cheddar cheese and cream
Cooked egg yolks
Sliced or ground meat or
The following foods do not
Cooked egg whites
Packing Up Food Safety
In the morning rush, you can wrap up and pack food safety with your child’s school lunch, keeping